I have never been a crafty person in spite of my best efforts. However, mom’s visit in April prompted a trip to The Fiber Gallery where we bought wool roving and a beginner’s needle felting kit. For about $20 I’ve had nearly three months of therapeutic entertainment. The first thing I needle felted (is that a verb?) was an owl, and let’s just say that I was the only person who could tell that it was an owl. I realized that I started kind of big, so I tried to scale things down a notch by making a simple bird sitting on a bifurcated branch–that went pretty well but took a really long time. I regressed some more and started working to master basic shapes. I watched a few videos on making felt balls, and used this blog post to teach myself new techniques. [Note: I did not have great luck using the panty hose technique, and much prefer to hand roll the balls. It takes about 10-15 minutes per ball, but you have greater control over the final shape.] I found that I really enjoyed making the balls and decorating them. I became mildly obsessed. Then, whilst making my Kentucky Derby fascinator (which involved an embroidery hoop, some Russian netting, and a ribbon studded with pom poms) I was inspired to make a mobile for my friend’s son, Asher.
First I made 15 felt balls in three different sizes. I used black, white, teal, orange, and dark purple wools for the background colors and then used contrasting colored wool to decorate the balls with designs that would catch Asher’s eye. I used mostly geometric shapes, though I did add in the requisite bird (a must have for any trend setting baby). I wanted Asher to be able to tug on the balls if he was so inspired, so I set out to find a wire that was thin enough to thread through the felted wool but sturdy enough to stand up to a baby’s grasp. I decided against metal wires [too sharp] and threads [easy to shred], and settled on fishing wire for its strength and aesthetic appeal–it made the balls look like they were floating, which was kind of cool. For the base I used a plastic embroidery hoop after discovering that I could splinter the wooden ones with very little effort. Unfortunately, the fabric store only carried plastic hoops in pastel shades of purple, yellow, or pink (blech!) so I used a fabric glue to attach a brown and cream ribbon to the hoop. R helped me finish the top with beads and then we looped it onto a copper hook she created. I think the whole project turned out pretty splendidly, and I hope Asher enjoys looking at it as much as we enjoyed making it.